THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Good, bad, ugly?: Take the 'rate your job' quiz
Today's job market favors employees. The attitude of most workers is that they should have a job that makes them happy. So it's no surprise that, according to the Wall Street Journal, at any given time, 70 percent of the workforce is job hunting.
Everyone is looking for the right position. But what exactly does that mean?
Here's something it probably doesn't mean: prestigious. People who chase fame and prestige are generally not as happy as other people. If you're after fame, you're setting goals that are dependent on other people's approval. Conversely, goals about self-acceptance and friendship make you happy because you have more control over them.
You might think you're different– that you have a legitimate shot at fame. Ninety percent of young workers think they're in the top 10 percent of all workers, according to Business Week. Also, 40 percent think they'll become famous. The reality is that only 1 or 2 percent ever achieve a modicum of fame.
A good rule of thumb when choosing a job to make you happy is to pick one based on the following list of attributes. Add up the points below to see if your job is any good:
1. A short, predictable commute - 1 point
The problem with a long commute is that it's long in a different way each day. Sometimes it's the rain, sometimes there's an accident. Sometimes traffic is backed up for no apparent reason. Humans can acclimate to a lot of traumatic stuff– even being a paraplegic, according to Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness. But you cannot acclimate yourself to something that's bad in a different way every day.
2. Workflow you can manage - 1 point
This is not about doing work. This is about managing your personal life, which you cannot do if you have no control over your workflow. You need to be able to predict when things will be difficult and when it's safe to focus more on your personal life. This is why management consultants are generally happy– they oversee their own schedule. But those who hold client-heavy jobs, such as lawyers or financial analysts, have to jump at a client's whim.
3. Clear goals that are challenging - 1 point
Goals that are not challenging result in boredom, not happiness. But challenging work without a clear goal is a bad job waiting to happen because people want to know how they're doing. You can't get feedback from a boss who does not set clear goals to manage your progress.
It's worth noting that the primary cause of workplace burnout is not the amount of time spent working, but whether the work you did makes a difference. For example, nurses on the pediatric burn unit have high turnover because it's exhausting to be taking care of children without being able to stop their suffering. Conversely, entrepreneurs are typically happy because they have so much control over workflow and goals.
4. Two co-workers you're close friends with - 3 points
If you have two good friends at work, you are almost guaranteed to like your job, according to Tom Rath, the author of Vital Friends. That's in part because you can process the bad parts of a job more productively with friends by your side to help you.
So finding a job you like or turning a bad job into a good job might actually be totally under your control; you can decide you're going to be likable and make friends– or not.
0 - 2 points, probably not a good job
3 points, probably a good job
4 - 6 points, probably a really good job